New Iraqi Constitution

Much ink had recently been spilled over the new Iraqi Constitution that was just submitted to the Iraqi parliament. The fact remains, though there has been much American hand wringing about the establishment of another Islamic state in the Middle East, this is a good constitution.

That which is causing so much concern in the West, is this line from Article Two of the constitution:
"Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation."
In typical fashion, the American media only reports the sensational part of the story. Article Two continues thusly:
(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.
(b) No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy.
(c) No law can be passed that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.
The basic rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the constitution begin with religious freedom but also include equality before the law for men and women of every creed and color, as well as right to private property. In fact, the first eight pages of the constitution are a recitation of the rights and freedoms of al Iraqis.

Providing a for a federal style parliamentary system, the proposed constitution establishes election rules for the bicameral parliament composed of the Council of Representatives and the Council of Union as well as the president of the republic. The president appoints a prime minister, who forms a cabinet. The consitution also establishes an independent jundiciary. The central government at Bagdad is specifically responsible for:
1st - drawing up foreign policy, diplomatic representation, negotiating international accords and agreements, negotiating and signing debt agreements, drawing up foreign sovereign economic and trade policies.
2nd - drawing up and executing national defence policy including setting up and operating the armed forces to ensure the protection and security of Iraq's borders and its defence.
3rd - drawing up financial and customs policy, issuing currency, organizing trade policy among regions and provinces in Iraq, setting the general budget for the nation, drawing up currency policies and establishing and administering a central bank.
4th - organizing issues of weights and measures.
5th - organizing issues of nationality and naturalization, residence and asylum rights.
6th - organizing a policy of broadcast wavelengths and the mail.
7th - setting the general and investment budgets.
8th - planning policies connected to water resources from outside Iraq and guaranteeing levels of water flow into Iraq, according to international law and custom.
9th - conducting the general census of the population.
All other responsibilities fall to the regional councils. This important point, much derided by Iraqi Sunnis, will allow for better government at the local level for everyday Iraqis.

The other controversial provision is the continued de-Baathification of the political process. Though it will mean a great deal of convining of some Sunnis, the removal of every vestige of Saddam's regime is impotant for the future of Iraq.

One provision that may convince some everyday Iraqis is this one:
"The state guarantees compensation to the families of martyrs and those who were wounded by terrorist acts."
This provision does two things: first it places the the new federal government squarely on the sides of those Iraqi civilians who continue to be killed by insurgents, and second it redefines martyrs as those who have died at the hands of insurgents and not the suicide bombers who kill Iraqi civilians and coalition forces.